Hotel Holt is in fact an art museum in a hotel where you’ll find part of the largest private collection of Icelandic art.
The founders of Hotel Holt Þorvaldur Guðmundsson and Ingibjörg Guðmundsdóttir, were very passionate and interested in art, culture and history and their private collection includes most of the gems in Icelandic art history. This is by far Iceland’s largest private collection with a total of 1,560 pieces.
Around 460 works from the collection are on display at Hotel Holt. Þorvaldur and Ingibjörg wanted to give the hotel a distinguishable Icelandic character and so the building was adorned with Icelandic art from the very beginning.
The artwork in Hotel Holt is numbered and catalogued and the reception offers further information. Self-guided tour of the hotel museum is available QR code.
The art collection includes among others works by one of Iceland’s most beloved painters Jóhannes S. Kjarval who was a friend to Þorvaldur. They met when Þorvaldur worked at SS Butchers at age 17 and would regularly deliver food to Kjarval at his studio downtown. Their friendship would last for the rest of their lives and Þorvaldur and Ingibjörg’s private collection contains one of the largest collections of Kjarval’s works, including Lífshlaupið (Course of Life), a unique work of art that Kjarval painted directly onto the walls of his studio between 1929 and 1933. A section of this piece can be seen at the bar in the private function room Thingholt. Many of Kjarval’s well-known portraits can be seen in the hotel bar.
Most of the works found on the hotel’s ground floor are paintings and drawings by Kjarval but there are also paintings there by other pioneers such as Ásgrímur Jónsson, Jón Stefánsson, Kristín Jónsdóttir and Júlíana Sveinsdóttir. The collection includes epochal works like Konur í saltfiski / The Saltfish Ladies (1935) by Gunnlaugur Blöndal, Áning / Picnic (1939) by Jón Stefánsson, Konur við síldarsöltun / Women Salting Herring (1940) by Jón Þorleifsson, Sveitasæla / Rural Idyll (ca. 1955-1960) by Gunnlaugur Scheving, Töfrar Íslands / The Magic of Iceland (1962) by Jón Engilberts and two works: Farfuglar / Migratory Birds (1980) and Án titils / Untitled (1984) by Eiríkur Smith.